The Theme Stated/B Story Axis of Meaningfulness
As I put the final touches on the new book that’s coming out this fall, I am learning A LOT!
I crack the structure on 50 movies in this book — 50, ladies and germs! — and that’s a lot of sprocket holes.
But no one is more delighted by what I am finding than me!
One of the key breakthroughs I’m having is seeing the importance of Theme Stated — and how the discussion of the theme is found in the B Story.
Thanks to Naomi Beaty, who is going back and double-checking all my Theme Stated moments in each of the 50 films, I am discovering how fascinating this science of story can be.
Take The Black Stallion, for instance — a great “boy and his dog” tale. This is one about a boy and his steed. The “Theme Stated” is right there in Minute 7 when the boy’s father (Hoyt Axton) tells him the story of how Alexander tamed the wild horse, Bucepholus. “If you can ride that horse. You can have that horse,” he says as he repeats the tale. It’s what The Black Stallion is “about” — not taming a horse per se, but doing the impossible, and taking on the challenge of life in general.
Who is the B story? Mickey Rooney, the old jockey who’s retired from racing and from life. He will take the boy the rest of the way on his quest, and their relationship is all about the theme. It’s where it is discussed, and why — by movie’s end — when the boy and his horse cross the finish line of the big race, we know the race is about more than that.
It’s about doing the impossible.
Theme Stated/B Story must be addressed in your story. If your movie isn’t “about” something, why write it? And when you find out what it’s about, say it, right up front, then use the B story to talk about it. The B story is the “helper” story, and helps the heroes of the A tale transform.
I can’t wait to show how these and other components work in all the 50 movies I review. It is just delicious stuff! And we are almost ready to go!
p.s. Another GREAT workshop this weekend. And for those of you in the L.A. area, an offer from one of writers, Greg Field. Greg is putting together a Cat! group to meet on a regular basis and continue work started at the workshop. Anyone who has taken a workshop weekend is eligible. For information about when and where the L.A. group will meet, contact Greg at [email protected] or by calling him at 310.882.0581 He’s a great guy and eager to get to work!
p.p.s. Two more days and then I am on a flight to… Barcelona, Spain! I will be gone for 10 days conducting a seminar. But I will be reachable via email and yes, still blogging!